San Carlos Approves Hilton Garden Inn Hotel Project

Hilton Garden Inn Hotel San Carlos SWENSON Huntington Hotel Group ACRM Architects Commercial Industrial Road Brittan Avenue

By Jacob Bourne

On June 12 the San Carlos City Council approved plans for a 162-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel at 1091 Industrial Road. The project is a joint venture by developers SWENSON and Huntington Hotel Group that have been working with ACRM Architects on the design. SWENSON and Huntington Hotel Group are also co-owners of the property. In addition to approving the development plan, City Council adopted the project’s Mitigated Negative Declaration for the environmental report and a zoning change from General Commercial-Industrial to Planned Development. The City’s Planning Commission had recommended the project for approval on May 15.

“Being from San Carlos I’m very familiar with the area and we decided to purchase the property along with Huntington Hotel Group in early 2015,” said Cole Strombom, development manager, SWENSON. “There are very few sites available for hotel development in San Carlos. There’s an existing two-story office building there, which made for a good investment property and we’re now looking to redevelop it. The area is a second gateway in to the city and I think this will be a great quality project for the community.”

The property is a 1.6-acre parcel on the corner of Industrial Road and Brittan Avenue. An existing commercial building and surface parking lot will be demolished to construct the seven-story hotel reaching 84 feet in height. In addition to the guest rooms, the hotel will offer a lobby, dinning area, offices, a pool and fitness room. Five meeting rooms will be available on the second floor. Another notable amenity is a guest courtesy shuttle that provides connections between Downtown and the airport.

During the conceptual design phase, concerns were raised that the attached, four level, above-grade parking structure would be obtrusive. The design now shows the 160-space parking garage fully hidden by greenery and decorative metal panels. The overall style of the hotel is contemporary with an exterior featuring concrete painted with warm gray and pewter colors, as well as glass and metal panels. Tall windows border the entrance to the lobby with landscaping surrounding the perimeter. Based on input from City planners, the design had been modified significantly from an initial suburban style hotel to a more sophisticated design with urban materials and breaks in the structure’s massing.

“We’re happy with the way the design has evolved and it’s something we’re very proud of and appreciate all the help we had from staff,” commented Bill Ryan, senior vice president, SWENSON at the City Council hearing. “We think it’s something the city will be proud of.”

The hotel’s modern design mimics some of the newer and anticipated developments in the vicinity of Industrial Road. As the 84 foot height exceeds the limit for the area, a zoning amendment was pursued to make the project economically feasible by accommodating an adequate number of guest rooms. Breaks in the building’s massing were then incorporated to create a more horizontal appearance.

“The applicant has agreed to donate land along Brittan Avenue and Industrial Road to accommodate the City’s future roadway improvement project,”explained Lisa Costa-Sanders, principal planner. “Based on recent appraised value of another acquisition, we estimate the value at about $430,000 for the land that will be donated.”

The City’s roadway improvement project involves widening part of Industrial Road and Brittan Avenue and adding turning lanes at the intersection. City staff anticipate that in the first year of operations, occupancy taxes from the hotel will total nearly $1 million. Strombom expects that construction will begin by the end of this year or early in 2018.